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OK, new thread. Mayor Weaver is taking over. We're talking Boulder's lobbying agenda. Here's the link again: boulderbeat.news/2019/11/17/cli…
Carl Castillo, the city's policy advisor, presenting. I wish I had a powerpoint to share with you, but this meeting was suspiciously lacking in presentations for some reason.
All of Boulder's 5 state priorities passed last session. Minimum wage, mobile home protections, PERA fix, extending EV tax credits and statewide emission standards.
Big year for Boulder at the statehouse.

To expand a bit more the min wage thing was allowing local municipalities to set their own, which Boulder will likely do this year.
"It was a fantastic year," Castillo says.
The city's lobbyists, unusually, are not here. But they think it's likely that family leave will be a big state priority. So will preschool funding.
And transportation funding.
Boulder spends $40K/yr on federal lobbying (Smith Dawson & Andrews, based in D.C.)
$55K/yr for state lobbying (Headwaters Strategies, Denver firm)
That's up just slightly from last year's $90K, per the story I did for the Camera one year ago!
We're talking transportation funding. Big issue for Boulder, given the $22M annual gap we have locally on transportation. Plus $23M in projects we need to pay for.
Castillo again, on other bills that Boulder will want to know about. Repeal of the Secure and Verifiable Identity Documents Act (prohibits local governments from deciding which forms of ID to accept for municipal services)
It's not a priority, but it *is* on the city's goal list. Likely to come up at the leg this year, Castillo says.
And, another big one for Boulder likely to be brought up: Allowing cities to invest in credit unions OR do their own public banks.
"This year, leadership is saying they're going to make a significant reduction in the amount of late bills they're going to allow," Castillo says. So Boulder shouldn't expect to put anything forward after the deadline.
With any chance of success, at least.
BoCo is considering an affordable housing and transportation combo tax. Interesting...
Moving on to what's new this year. What's new is actually what's gone: Deleted goals bc they were achieved last year.
Young: Has any progress been made on the purple card? (Like a green card but for someone who won't ever apply for citizenship)

Castillo: No
Brockett clarifies: It wouldn't preclude future citizenship or guarantee it.

Still a Boulder priority.
Of all Boulder's goals for the state level, there are 6 priorities:

1.) Further strengthen rights of/protections for mobile home residents (Working with Edie Hooton on this)

Some progress made last year. "Fantastic first step," Castillo says, but more to do.
The state might pursue ways to allow mobile home residents the right to purchase their own communities. Along with further protections (retaliation from owners, fee transparency, etc.)
"This bill has not been finalized, nor would it be appropriate for me to say what's in it," Castillo says. "But the gist is we're asking you to support increased protections for mobile home residents."
State priority 2: Repeal state prohibition on local plastics ban (working with Colorado Municipal League)
"A bill will be introduced to restore that ability to local residents," Castillo says.
Priority 3: Restore local gov’t authority to ban certain pesticides and pass protections for pollinators, human health and environment (working with People and Pollinators Action Network and Senator Fenberg)
That right was taken away in 95 and 96, Castillo says. Local gov't officials should make the decision on "what is safe."
Q from Nagle: If we repeal materials thing, can we do styrofoam, too?

Yes, Castillo says. Full control on materials bans. "I think your chances are good that we'll get that."
State priority 4: Discourage vape use, particularly among youths (working with CU, BVSD and Boulder County to advocate for legislation)
Boulder just did a lot of this, raising age for consumption and purchase from 18 to 21 and banning flavors.
Priority 5: Allow inclusionary zoning to include rental development (basically to find that inclusionary housing is not a form of rent control) (working with Colorado Municipal League to develop legislation)
This would allow Boulder to require on-site affordable rentals, rather than the cash-in-lieu option they have to provide now. Legally.
Q from Young: So this leg would allow for the creation of on-site affordable?

Yes, Castillo says.
Young: I'm confused. I thought it was possible, just difficult.
Carr: In rent control statute, it doesn't apply to voluntary agreements between gov't and developer. But city can't deny approval based on rent control (and affordable housing)
"A small tweak to the statute can give us that ability" (to deny approval for projects if they don't provide on-site affordable rentals.
Young: There have been cases where the developer was willing to provide affordable rentals on-site but then it fell through bc it became so difficult. So this would allow us, but we'd still have issues with the practicality and finances of the projects?
Carr: yes.
Carr: "We've had instances where developers wanted to try it but we weren't comfortable."
OK, moving onto fed priorities.
No. 1 is always the same: Support funding for federal labs and CU (funding routinely threatened)
No. 2: End mistreatment of migrants under ICE detention, non-detention programs (Relevant legislation: HR 282, the POD Act of 2019, sponsored by Jason Crow and co-sponsored by Joe Neguse. Would “prohibit any limitations” on members of congress entering into detention facilities)
Castillo: If this gets passed, "Congress people can see firsthand whether or not (facilities) are within standards of decency we can expect."
Young: Would it make sense to add in a bit about funding oversight?
Castillo: We could add in our support for funding as well. It makes perfect sense.
Federal priority No. 3: “Promote a greater understanding of the nexus between pesticide use and climate change mitigation and adaptation, particularly the ability of regenerative organic agriculture to reduce emissions … and sequester carbon”
Neguse is in “early stages” of considering legislation around these topics. Beyond Pesticide conference in Boulder in 2020.
Castillo: "There's a lot of belief that organic, pesticide-free ag when done right can be a significant way to avoid emissions ... but also as a way to mitigate and sequester carbon." But a lot of investigation still needs to take place.
Neguse may speak at the conference and put together a package of legislation to advance that exploration.
Wallach: A no. of federal legislators have been circulating proposals related to opportunity zones. I would urge you to look at the possibility of adding that to our list of priorities and "create a system that's going to work better for Boulder."
A few priorities from our council members:
Friend, gun control
Swetlik, minmum wage and rent control
Weaver, something about electric utility
And I missed Brockett's, but I think he emailed about it and it was muni-related, too.
Council will vote on this lobbying agenda Dec. 3
We're moving to public hearing. Quite a few speakers for this.
I mean, probably fewer than 10-15. But that's more than last year, I think.
Karey Christ-Janer, talking about local energy and a bill proposed by Edie Hooton. I don't quite follow it, but I think Sam at the Camera wrote about it: dailycamera.com/2019/11/18/bou…
Jim Hooton, Edie's husband, praising Boulder's climate muni efforts. Regardless of what happens with Boulder's muni future, "it's sadly obvious" that the expensive, lengthy process "has discouraged other communities" from following suit.
Dan Greenberg also asking for support for Hooton's energy choice bill. I think they're just to study proposals to allow communities to buy their power from any generator, but still pay their local utility for use of equipment (poles, lines, stations, etc.)
That was my quick rundown from Sam Lounsberry. Credit to him. (But if I fudged it up, that's on me. Don't blame him.)
Ditto for Larry Milashevich.
Judy Amabile is talking about cuts to mental health providers who serve Medicare patients. Another story I'm working on (though I honestly hope someone smarter than me and at a bigger paper takes it up)
"We've passed a lot of parity bills, but we apparently don't know what parity looks like," she says.
Basically (as I understand it) Anthem is cutting the reimbursement rates it pays to mental health providers whose clients use Medicare to pay for services.
Qs from Weaver: What is it? When did it happen?
Oct. 5, a letter was sent out.
Andrew Rose, a local mental health service provider, speaking to the same thing. Serves 145 Medicaid clients.

"Imagine a 20% pay cut."
So yes, corrections to above tweets: Medicaid, not Medicare.
"My contractors don't want to work for Medicaid anymore," Rose says.
So providers (therapists, etc.) used to be compensated 100% for the cost of providing those services. Anthem is cutting it to 80%.
It's a little more complicated than that, but the essentials is that therapists are being paid less to provide the same service to Medicaid clients. Providing a disincentive to keep accepting Medicaid as a form of insurance.
"To see that cut is going to put us in jeopardy ... to keep serving the 20% poorest population," Rose says.
Weaver asking some more clarifying qs. The Medicaid administrator for the state sets recommended fees for services, but apparently insurance companies don't have to follow those for mental health services....?
Friend q: Is this impacting only part of CO? Or all of the state?

Rose: Region 6 and 7 (CO Springs and Boulder) which Anthem administers, are being impacted by this.
Apologies if this is confusing. Health care reporting is, no lie, the hardest stuff I've ever done.
Well, the most complicated reporting I've ever done, to clarify.
Phillip Horne, another mental health provider, also speaking to the Medicaid reimbursement rate being cut 20%.

Already having impacts, he says. "I've already had to cut my pay. I'm back on Medicaid myself."
"I'm not sure we will continue" providing services.
Many factors make it more expensive to work with Medicaid, Horner says. It's going to lead providers to stop accepting Medicaid as an insurance. Those patients will then be forced onto the already-burdened Mental Health Partners.
"They'll wait months and, most likely, as an end result, not get care."
Dr. Ryan Burkhart: "These cuts are going to impact our community in a very negative way."
Seeing a 2-3 month waiting period as-is for Medicaid patients to get into therapy, Burkhart says. That will worsen as providers stop accepting Medicaid rather than be paid less.
Only qualified/certified Medicaid providers can serve patients on Medicaid. So these patients are "stuck," Burkhart says.
I forgot we were still talking about the lobbying agenda. Got caught up in the Medicaid thing.

Rich Andrews brought me back, talking about pesticides: "You are being poisoned every day."
Heather McLaughlin, a Boulder resident and rep for social workers, also talking Medicaid cuts. They've already met with Neguse, Fenberg, Singer... getting a lot of traction.
"This is a time that you as city council members can really move that needle forward help the community achieve what it set out to do... address mental health."

The most efficient way to do that is preventative, outpatient care.
If providers "are to survive," we're going to need to have pay that enables ppl to live and work in this community and serve the Medicaid population, McLaughlin says.

References substance abuse and suicide crises in CO.
If we cut reimbursement, those crises will worsen, she argues.
I'mma take a second to pat myself on the back (which is annoying, I know) but there are two groups who were here tonight bc I let them know about this meeting: The tiny home folks and the Medicaid mental health providers.

Feels good to be doing my job.
And I'll use this as a plug for *all* local community journalists: That's what we're here for. Call us, email us, Tweet us. Sometimes, we can help. Even if that's just letting you know who to get in front of and when.
OK, end of public hearing. Now going to council discussion.
RE: Pesticides (we already covered this, but going back over it) Boulder is supporting a state bill to allow local municipalities to ban pesticides. Bans are currently banned under state law.
Ditto for materials. Boulder (or any other municipality) can't ban plastics or styrofoam, for instance. Proposed legislation will give back that authority.

Boulder supporting both those bills.
Castillo: "There's only so much we can ask (of state legislators) that we have credibility on."
That's him explaining the point of this lobbying agenda. Boulder lobbies lawmakers directly, but also through coalitions.

"This is giving us the authority to build the coalitions and speak directly to our legislators."
Carr: When the legislature is in session, things happen very fast. This gives (Castillo) the license to speak to issues" we've already decided on.
Weaver: "When we hand this to (Castillo), it's basically marching orders" for him and our lobbyists.
We're a bit behind schedule tonight. I guess some things never change...
Wallach addressing his earlier point: He wants Boulder to support any federal legislation doing cleanup on the opportunity zone program, giving cities more control
I think council seems generally OK with that; there wasn't much discussion.
Castillo addressing the Medicaid thing. Council OK adding that to the agenda; Singer is sponsoring a legislative fix (I think).
Friend wants to add some goals on preventing gun violence. Specifically, three-day waiting periods on purchases and raising the age for purchase to 21.
Wants council to support those. Will be interesting since Nagle is not a fan of gun control. She did vote for the assault weapons ban Boulder did (and which Friend was active in promoting) but she wasn't happy about it.
Nagle: What about 18 yo military service members?
Friend: There would be exemptions.
Weaver: This is being proposed for the state level?
Friend: Yes

Weaver: I'm in favor of it.
Castillo: I'm not familiar of any legislation that's going to be introduced, but there's a group advocating for it. So we could add it if council wants.
Brockett suggests being a bit more vague as to the waiting period, so that whatever gets proposed, Boulder is on board.
Council generally supportive of this. Castillo will research, then add it to the agenda.
Another Friend add: Supporting abolishing the death penalty. "I recommend we support" that. "If we need me to wax poetic, I'm happy to. I'll just say it's statistically highly racist. For that reason alone, I would support abolishing it."
Friend bringing it with some facts around prison population and drug arrests to correct the lobbying agenda.
Council supports repealing the death penalty, so that will be added to the agenda as well.
Young has an add to the federal agenda language, opposing discrimination based on income (for the feds wanting to not let any immigrants in who don't have health insurance)

Council OK with that
More language tweaks to the transportation sections, to cover more than affordability and access.
And another interesting add to language: Young doesn't want to support any anti-vaping efforts that don't account for ppl using it as a smoking cessation device.

Some debate over that now, bc it's not been proven to do that, scientifically.
Brockett: "I found the arguments compelling that we should not be promoting vaping as a smoking cessation device. I can't say I'd support adding that in there."
Young: I did read peer-reviewed papers that supported it as a cessation device.
Weaver: I read some peer-reviewed papers that looked down on other peer-reviewed papers... they found that more ppl got addicted than quit smoking.

"Not wild" about Young's proposal.
Castillo: We could state that we recognize that ppl use it as cessation, and we don't prohibit it from being used that way, but we don't necessarily support that. But we can still support taxing it, flavor ban and a higher age limit. So we're not weighing in on cessation.
Brockett: "I'd have to see the language" before I know if I'm going to support it or not.
Castillo is going to write something up and send it in before council votes on Dec. 3
That will be on the consent agenda, so limited discussion.
Swetlik wants to add an agenda item to support a statewide $15/hr minimum wage.
Weaver: We could do one that's a part of AMI. Statewide doesn't work bc cost of living varies so much across the state.
Castillo: Another approach could be to support regional minimum wages.
So the Front Range could have its own minimum wage. Interesting...
Brockett supports the regional minimum wage idea, and Swetlik agrees on the compromise. It won't go into state and federal lobbying agenda, but still part of the lobbying work.
Swetlik also wants to add an item to support overturning a statewide ban on rent control.
"This might be the last opportunity to have it. We all really appreciate local control. We've heard time and time again from staff we need every tool available in the toolbox for affordable housing."
Castillo: Last session, we supported overturning the ban on rent control.
"It was clear it was not going to pass, so we didn't testify" during the last session.

Boulder also says it supports rent control at mobile home parks.
Brockett: We've already supported it. I'm perfectly happy to get it in there... not necessarily bc I support rent control.
Weaver: I don't think it will go forward (at the state leg) but I'd like to see it explicitly supported.

Council agrees. That's added in.
Weaver has one last add: Support a statewide wildfire audit every couple of years, to assess risk.
Council supports that, too.
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